GUWAHATI, Nov 21 - After being neglected for decades, the little known �Vocational Education (VE)� stream for the Higher Secondary classes in Assam has caught the attention of the Assam Higher Secondary Education Council (AHSEC), which has initiated a full review of the course content of the stream � for the first time since its inception in 1989.
Not many would know that along with Arts, Commerce and Science, Vocational Education is also a full-fledged stream for HS students, where 150 subject teachers are engaged presently in 82 HS schools and colleges across the State.
Ironically, the enrolment of students has been negligible in such courses, with below 1,000 students appearing for HS final exam on an average every year from this stream. This year, only 903 students of VE appeared in the HS final exams. The number in the previous year was 879.
Admitting the prolonged delay in updating the courses, the AHSEC Controller of Examination Pankaj Borthakur told this newspaper that the entire syllabus would be revised and updated with thrust on practical application of the course so that the interested students may find avenues of self-employment.
�In addition, we also want to work out a plan about upward mobility of students through linking of the VE courses with our universities,� he added.
The VE wing of the HS curriculum offers 16 courses that include some the most sought after skills like automobile engineering technology, computer technique, textile designing, accountancy and auditing, commercial garment making, maintenance and repairing of electrical appliance, inland fisheries, horticulture, crop production and mechanical engineering technology among others.
Sources privy to the development told The Assam Tribune that due to lack of interest on the part of the AHSEC and academic institutions alike, awareness was not created about availability of these courses earlier. Similarly, old and redundant contents and an unproductive link between theoretic and practical aspects of the subjects made them more unpopular and cumbersome for students.
�Per month the government pays approximately Rs 20.5 lakh to the subject teachers of VE stream. Technically, it�s an expenditure, which is not yielding much. Even those teachers who want do something, are frustrated, as they have little scope to work. It�s high time for government to take a call on either reviving or shutting down the stream permanently,� the sources added.
The AHSEC official, on the other hand, maintained that since the new Draft Education Policy has also given lots of emphasis on vocational education and entrepreneurship development, the revised plan would incorporate information about market linkage, loans, subsidies and government schemes, etc., to help interested students launch their own entrepreneurial ventures, instead of seeking jobs.
�Revival of the VE stream can benefit a large number of students as it�s a part of mainstream academic course and can train up students en masse,� he further mentioned.
�A postgraduate in mechanical engineering, initially, I was thrilled at the idea of teaching young students about this subject. But, the joy waned soon after my appointment, when hardly any student came for the classes. Many like me would agree that we lose respect among our peer group for being a part of a defunct segment,� a vocational teacher from Kamrup district confessed on condition of anonymity.
With a poor show in the past, a lot still remains to be seen on how the Council promotes the revised courses and ensures active involvement of academic institutions in encouraging the students to take up VE as a choice of stream.